Whether you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for your preschooler or just some stories to get you into the Christmas spirit, these titles offer up something for everyone, from funny reads that will make you laugh, to thoughtful tomes that will get you and your little one considering what the true meaning of the holiday is.
Got a preschooler who sometimes mixes up song lyrics? (For me, "Big Girls Don't Cry" became "Big Bird Don't Fly.") Then Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and illustrated by J.otto Seibold should be right up their alley. When Olive the dog mishears "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," she heads right up to the North Pole to give Santa and the "other" reindeers a hand (er, paw). A hilarious Christmas tale that's sure to become a favorite.
A tender, dreamy book, perfect for reading on a snowy night, Dream Snow by Eric Carle tells the story of an old farmer who on Christmas Eve, dreams of snow that covers him and his animals -- One, Two, Three, Four and Five! When he awakens he learns that snow really has fallen. He heads outdoors (in his red suit) and puts gifts under the tree for his pets. With the push of a button, a holiday song is shared. A simple story, made all the more special with Carle's touches -- the illustrations are gorgeous but its the painted snowflakes that layer over each page that really give this book outstanding.
For many little ones, trying to understand who Jesus is and why his birth is so important can be a little overwhelming. A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck and illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright does a great job of explaining the reason for the season. Sweetly worded, the book simply explains about the birth of Christ, tying it into a little boy's Nativity. A quiet book, great for bedtime, that really will resonate not only with your child, but most likely you as well.
A beautifully painted, charming book, Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner, follows some snowmen and women at Christmastime and what they do while the children are all sleeping. The rhymes are sweet and fun to listen to and help your preschooler imagine what might go on while she's asleep.
During the holiday season, no matter how joyous it is, it is easy for your preschooler to engage in some not so terrific behavior, most particularly, the "gimmies. Learning what Christmas is all about (hint: not getting presents) is the focus of The Berenstein Bears and the Joy of Giving, by Jan and Mike Bernstein. It's a great story that explains in simple terms about what it means to give gifts at Christmastime and why it's better to give than to receive.
Santa might keep track of who is naughty and who is nice, but ever wonder how exactly he does it? Enter The Elf on the Shelf, a holiday friend who shows up at homes everywhere around Thanksgiving and reports back to the big guy in red every night. Complete with a companion book, each morning when the kiddies wake up, the elf has magically changed spots from where he was the day before. The book is a fun read anytime during the holiday season -- it tells the story of the elf itself and goes over the ground rules (no touching the elf at any time, the elf cannot answer back, etc.). A fun book/holiday activity that the whole family can be a part of.
Updated into a picture book form (the original novel was released in 1972), The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson and illustrated by Laura Cornell is the hilarious story of the Herdman kids -- "the worst kids in the history of the world" -- and their attempt to take over the annual Christmas pageant at the church. Adapted into picture book form for younger readers, the story still includes all the charm of the first -- Wise Men bringing pizza and that the comic-book version of the Angel of the Lord. But in the end, even with these horrible Herdmans, everyone might figure out the true meaning of Christmas after all.
No list of Christmas books would be complete without How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. When the mean old Grinch decides to cancel Christmas, stealing presents, decorations and sweets, he's surprised to learn that the holiday goes on anyway. A laugh-out-loud book with plenty of important lessons inside.